Wedding websites - the who, why and what

Photo by  Mimi Thian  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Do you really need to create a website for your wedding?  No, it’s not essential – for thousands of years people have managed to get married without a website.  However…..we’re now in a world where we seem to be living a lot of our life online.  We shop online, we play games online, we get our music and entertainment online, we socialise online, we work online and a lot of couples would never have got together if they hadn’t been dating online!  So it’s something you seriously need to consider – because a lot of your guests are going to expect it.

It’s a good idea because:

·         It’s super helpful and useful.  A wedding website provides the perfect hub for information and a great space where everyone involved can “meet” in a single virtual space.  It makes the planning and communication so much easier because you can put all the important details up here so you are not constantly having to respond to questions over the phone or via email, text or other messaging apps.  With everything in one place there’s less chance of miscommunication and you can set up alerts to notify people of changes – saves contacting them all individually.

·         It’s not expensive.  There’s a huge range of website builders to choose from and there are even some platforms that are free.  NB we’ve not listed prices in this post as they may well change – you’ll have to visit each site to get current rates.

·         Most web builders allow you to personalise your site so it reflects the theme and colour scheme of your wedding.  You can add photos and a forum for your guests to chat on.  All in all it enables you to start building the excitement long before the big day.

·         It’s secure.  The web builder should enable you to password protect your site so access is only provided to those you select.

·         You can add all sorts of features that make managing your wedding much easier - set up your virtual wedding gift list, send out invitations and get RSVPs sent directly to the site.  You can also set up your table plan online. This keeps all your essential wedding information in one handy place without the need for a paper-based filing system.

Do’s and Don’t’s

·         Do stick with your theme.  If your wedding is going to be a country chic style affair with a green and beige colour scheme and a rustic typeface then you want to carry that look through onto your website.  Likewise if you are creating a very formal black tie event your website should reflect that.  You are telling a story and setting a scene, so it all needs to be consistent or the spell will be broken and your guests will be confused – you don’t want them turning up in dinner jackets and cocktail dresses if you are expecting them in tweeds and floaty floral skirts!

A rustic wedding calls for a rustic styled website

A rustic wedding calls for a rustic styled website

·         Do use a password so you keep the site private and secure.

·         Don’t use online RSVPs.  This feature might seem tempting but online RSVPs aren’t taken as seriously as paper cards, so it’s best to keep it formal. Also, some of your older or less tech-savvy guests may not be able to successfully RSVP online, meaning your count could be off or replies could be late.  Having said that it’s probably fine to use of online RSVPs for more casual gatherings like your morning-after brunch, where you’re looking for an estimated idea of numbers and not a formal RSVP.

·         Do provide detailed travel and destination information.  Whether your celebration is local or you’ve opted a distant destination wedding, there will be guests coming from far and wide so provide everything they need. Include a list of local hotels and B&B’s with their contact details, as well as a map and directions to the venue.  If you’ve made any special arrangements with accommodation providers or taxi be sure to add this information as well. 

Photo by  Rob Hampson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rob Hampson on Unsplash

·         Don’t put details of invite-only events on the website.  Everyone on your guest list needs access to the website but there may be some exclusive gatherings, like a rehearsal dinner just for the wedding part or a bridesmaids-only luncheon, that not everyone is invited to attend.  Leave the details of these events off the site so you don’t make others feel left out.

·         Don’t forget to put a wedding timeline on the site.  It’s really helpful for people, especially those who are bringing kids or organising childcare, and for older guests who may only be attending for part of the day.

·         Don’t write a novel.  By all means you can give people a little background to you love story – how you met, how the relationship developed, how you got engaged.  You can also provide introductions to everyone in the wedding party and perhaps a quick overview of each bridesmaid and groomsman.  But keep everything short and sweet.

Best wedding website builders

There are lots of great providers and templates to choose from.  This list is by no means exhaustive but you should probably check these ones out before making a decision.

·         Squarespace.  We use Squarespace for our website so it’s obviously a bit of a favourite with the team at Clevedon Hall.  It's probably the most professional-looking site you're going to get without hiring a designer and can customize pretty much every single element to create your own distinctive look and feel.  However, there are cheaper options.

·         Wix.  There’s a free version or a very cheap premium option.  The templates are modern, minimalist and chic.  You you can easily customize elements with a click-and-drag editor. But if you don't want a big Wix ad at the top of your site you're going to have to pay extra.

·         Joy.  Free version with a lot of extra features like a photo-streaming timeline and guest messaging. But your layout options are extremely limited - designs are primarily rustic and very floral.

·         The Knot.  This huge US based wedding directory provides a free wedding website builder service with 100+ designs.  It’s free and unlike most free options, you get your very own personalised URL. Your site will be mobile-friendly and you have the option to collect your guest photos from Facebook and Instagram.  

·         Appy Couple.   Extensive selection of beautiful templates and you can use the same style for things you want to print, like invitations, order of service and menus.  Not only stylish it's incredibly easy to use, entirely customisable, and has every kind of built-in feature you can think of.

Image courtesy of Riley & Grey

Image courtesy of Riley & Grey

·         Riley & Grey.  Great for a couple who wants to invest in design and have a non-traditional website that stands out from the pack.  Not the quickest and easiest to set up.

·         Minted Let’s you create something with a very unique feel, and enables you to match the look of the website to the invites and décor. But if you want practical features RSVP, a photo album and privacy controls, it's not your best option.

·         Weduary  Very social media friendly. In addition to the usual features it offers the option to connect your guestlist to each other through Facebook. You can notify your guests via Facebook, they'll receive an email when they are invited to your wedding, you can keep up with RSVPs and it allows your guests to get to know each other before they meet on the day.

·         eWedding.  The themes are a little more traditional than other design-led sites but it does have good features - lots of customisation options, a relationship timeline, and a text RSVP tool.  It’s also less expensive than some of the other premium website builders.

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Got some more queries?

Hopefully that answers some of you wedding website questions but if you’d like any further input and advice just get in touch – the team at Clevedon Hall are here to help in any way we can.

Jim O'ConnorComment